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Special Needs Kids Bullied More, Fare Poorly at School
Date:7/27/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Many 'special needs' kids who struggle with medical, emotional or behavioral issues often face tough social and academic troubles in school, a new study suggests.

Tracking the progress of more than 1,450 students in fourth through sixth grades from 34 rural schools, U.S. researchers found that one-third coped with special health care needs such as asthma, chronic pain, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, or emotional or behavioral problems.

These children, from three large school districts in Maryland and West Virginia, were also more likely to be bullied or feel socially isolated in their school, and to be more disruptive in class, according to the cross-sectional study, published in the July 25 issue of Pediatrics.

"Health affects school performance," noted study co-author Dr. Christopher B. Forrest, a professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Special health care needs have manifold effects on school outcomes that increase the likelihood that these kids are not going to successfully transition to adulthood."

For the study, Forrest and his colleagues obtained survey data from students and their parents, who completed a screening questionnaire measuring long-term health problems that require health services or cause functional problems. Children were classified as having a special health care need if they had a condition lasting at least 12 months and needed interventions such as prescription medication, therapy, counseling or other medical, mental health or educational services.

Additionally, school records were measured for attendance, grades and standardized achievement test scores.

Forrest said the finding that one of every three students had a special need was high -- greater than a 2003 national survey indicating 20 percent of children
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